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Health, Medicine and the Science of Race

The realms of health and medicine were among those where racial ideas (and practices) were most widely employed both with respect to Europeans and to Indians. The spatial reorganization of Indian cities was one aspect of this, as was the development of ideas of disease causation and transmission linked to race and the perceived vulnerability of Europeans in a ‘tropical’ environment.

There is a vast literature on this, but among the most useful works here are Harrison’s Climates and Constitutions [45] and Levine’s book on Prostitution, Race and Politics [56] one of several accounts of the relationship between race, prostitution and (venereal) disease: see also Ballhatchet’s book Race, Sex and Class [25] I’ve also written about this topic, including my Colonizing the Body [22] and ‘An Ancient Race Outworn’ [24], which looks at the malaria issue.

A related issue is how race came to be understood as ‘scientific’ and how it became entangled with ideas of what constituted civilization: see Adas [1].